This report provides information and analysis on developments relating to human rights and institutional reform in Zimbabwe between December 2011 and July 2012.
The first half of 2012 has been potentially monumental for the realisation of human rights, rule of law and democracy in Zimbabwe. However, as is characteristic of Zimbabwe, usually for every step forward, there are two regressive steps or in certain instances, no step at all.
Generally, in the first half, there were several gains at policy level although their realisation on the ground was either very slow or non-existent. This inertia was either caused by a complete lack of political will or by unnecessary politicking which placed politics over the national good, whenever the two conflicted.
On the positive side, the government made commendable specific progress towards implementing the commitments it made in terms of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), as well as during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. Specific examples under the GPA included calls for peace by Political Party Principals and a plan for judicial reforms, which, if fully implemented in letter and spirit might usher in an era of judicial independence and accountability. Further, the government’s current reaffirmation of its commitment to implement the UPR recommendations it accepted, is equally laudable.
However, on the negative side, progress towards the full operation of the much needed Human Rights Commission was painstakingly slow and the subsequent limitation of its temporal jurisdiction was far from satisfactory, given the constitutional significance of this Commission. Once again, politics is rearing its ugly head over the national good in the constitution making process and some politicians are refusing to compromise on marginal issues. Similarly worrying is the narrowing operational space for human rights defenders, rising levels of politically organised violence reinforced by the structural causes of violence. These still remain in place as evidenced by the continued presence, utterances and interference by the military in civilian political matters and the lack of political will to realign this critical sector. Unless these critical issues are addressed, the picture towards the run up to the impending political processes remains bleak.